College Football 2011: Oklahoma Sooners Spring Game Report Card
The sun was shining and the fans filled Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with a lot of excitement on Saturday for the annual Red-White spring game. An announced crowd of over 25,000 fans saw the Red team defeat the White team, 20-14, and all were sent home happy because of the quality exhibition the Sooners put on.
There were some questions coming into Saturday's game, but nearly all were answered, and the one that wasn't answered wasn't the biggest concern to begin with. Overall, it was a very good day for Oklahoma football and its fans.
Here's how the Sooners fared.
Landry Jones is firmly entrenched as the Sooners' starting quarterback, so this was not an audition or a time for him to prove himself capable of playing the position. Jones finished six-for-11 for 40 yards and an interception.
The star of the show was Drew Allen. Allen went 16-for-29 for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and firmly established himself as the backup quarterback.
Redshirt freshman Blake Bell showed flashes of the athletic ability that brought him to Norman on a wave of hype. However, he still has a long way to go, finishing the day 12-for-28 for 84 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He played a little bit for both teams.
On a day when Sooner fans and coaches were hoping to get some clarity on the starting running back position, none of the running backs that played stood out.
Dominique Whaley and Brennan Clay were the leading rushers on the day, but most of Whaley's 65 yards came on a 45-yard burst in the first half.
It was a rough debut for freshman Brandon Williams, who only ran for 13 yards on seven carries. Roy Finch and Jonathan Miller ran well, but neither stood out from the group.
Ryan Broyles and Justin McCay didn't play and Kenny Stills, DeJuan Miller and Trey Franks didn't play at 100 percent, but this group of receivers still showed that it is one of, if not the, most dangerous units in all of college football.
Miller was back after a season-ending knee injury suffered halfway through last season and caught six passes, including a touchdown. Franks, despite a foot injury that has hampered him for most of the spring, had a great day as well, showcasing his ability to be a big-time receiver.
The Sooners also welcomed Jaz Reynolds back, and he had a great day as well. This is far from a unit to be worried about.
This was the most impressive unit of the day by far.
While both sides as a whole gave up two sacks on the day, the game was being played under the "don't touch the quarterbacks" rule, so the sacks were recorded only if the defender got close enough to touch the quarterback.
All the quarterbacks had time to throw, and the running backs averaged four yards per carry. The linemen were aggressive, they were never overwhelmed by any of the blitzes that were thrown at them and overall, they were solid and did their jobs.
When it comes together, this unit will be a big key to the success of the Sooners' offense.
The offensive line held its own and provided plenty of protection for the quarterbacks, but that was not because there was a lack of pressure from the defensive line. This unit pushed the offensive line around a lot during the game and was able to apply some good pressure.
A really pleasant sight was the play of defensive tackle Casey Walker. Walker was in the backfield for most of the afternoon and showed that the Sooners will be just fine in the middle of the defensive line.
Stacy McGee and Jamarkus McFarland also played extremely well and answered questions about the lack of depth at that position.
There were zero problems or questions at this position coming into the game, and there were none coming out of it either. The Sooners are extremely deep at linebacker and will have problems just getting all that talent on the field.
Sophomore Corey Nelson has had a great spring and showcased his ability Saturday, flying all over the field and making plays. His speed is very good.
Travis Lewis, Austin Box and Tom Wort all maintained their high level of play from a year ago as well. This unit is great, and it's going to be difficult to do much of anything against these guys.
This was probably the biggest question mark coming into the day, and by the end of the game, it was pretty obvious that everything is going to be just fine in the Sooners' defensive backfield.
Sophomore Aaron Colvin looked like a natural at the safety position, and while he still has some work to do and some weight to put on, he will be a big asset for OU in 2011.
Gabe Lynn, replacing Jamell Fleming, looked pretty solid as well. The talent is there, it's just a matter of gaining some game experience for him to really take off.
And sophomore Tony Jefferson...wow. The kid has some tremendous talent.
The secondary picked off three passes and broke up another six on the day. As this unit continues to get better, it will prove to be a strength because of all the talent that is back there.
Tress Way had a good day punting with no pressure on him, averaging almost 50 yards a kick. OU needs him back to his 2009 form, when he led the country in net punting.
Jimmy Stevens made two field goals, as did Michael Hunnicutt, who is also in the running for the kicking position.
The only mishap was Patrick O'Hara's miss from 49 yards out. It had plenty of leg, but was wide right.
As usual, Bob Stoops and his staff have a wonderfully talented team on their hands and have done a great job working with them so far this spring. They've made several position changes, putting people in the right spots so that they can best help the team.
Lane Johnson shifted to offensive tackle, Aaron Colvin moved to safety and Gabe Lynn is now at cornerback; those are three big moves that are going to pay huge dividends for the Sooners in the 2011 season.
Kudos to Stoops and his staff for understanding team needs and knowing players well enough to know who has the ability to fill those needs.